Author

Douglas Kronaizl

Douglas Kronaizl is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Dive into one of Virginia’s battleground districts with Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Welcome to the Tuesday, October 19, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. State race spotlight: Virginia House of Delegates District 66
  2. Beth Barts, subject of Loudoun County, Va., school board recall effort, resigns
  3. Democrats gain majority in the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives after special election

State race spotlight: Virginia House of Delegates District 66

The Virginia House of Delegates is one of three state legislative chambers holding general elections this year. All 100 districts are up for election, with Democrats holding 55 to Republicans’ 45, making this the first time since 1999 where Democrats are defending a majority in the chamber. Ballotpedia identified 22 battleground House races based on four criteria, which can be found here

Today, let’s take a  closer look at the battleground race for Virginia’s House District 66 between Mike Cherry (R) and Katie Sponsler (D). Both candidates are Air Force veterans. Cherry has worked as a pastor and head of a parochial school while Sponsler has worked as a park ranger and physical trainer.

The district’s incumbent, Del. Kirk Cox (R), is not seeking re-election this year. Cox ran for governor instead and lost in the May 8 Republican primary. Cox was most recently re-elected in District 66 in 2019, winning 52-47%, his closest race since at least 2009. In 2020, Joe Biden (D) won the 66th district, defeating Donald Trump (R) 55-44%.

Both Cherry and Sponsler completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection Survey, which gives candidates a chance to speak directly with voters. Our survey goes beyond issue questions to elicit thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about and hope to achieve. Responses allow voters to access their candidates and identify those that best align with their values.

Here’s a look at Cherry and Sponsler’s responses to two questions from the survey, reproduced here verbatim:

Question: Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?

Cherry:

  • When Mike entered the USAF, he took an oath to protect our constitutional rights. He believes all Americans have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • Mike believes a strong and safe Virginia is only possible with a strong police system.
  • As an educator, Mike has a very clear understanding of what is going on in today’s education system.

Sponsler:

  • Education should be public, equitable, and fully funded to serve the needs of diverse communities and a wide range of abilities
  • Economic Justice is central in every American family’s needs. Without reliable, fair, and safe employment our communities and families can not thrive.
  • Our environment is not just climate change, it is the landfills and factories in our our [sic] backyards. We must address the air, water and soil pollution in our district.

Question: What is your favorite book? Why?

Cherry

The Bible. It is the most impactful book in the history of mankind. It is the instructions for a successful life.

Sponsler

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It’s [sic] discussion of the human experience and how that forms us in different ways causing a deep internal look no matter how many times I read it and that is what I think all the best books do.

You can read Cherry’s full responses here and Sponsler’s here.

According to recent campaign finance reports, Cherry had $165,162 on hand and Sponsler had $176,751. Cherry’s largest single donor is the Republican Party of Virginia, which contributed $17,552 to his campaign. Sponsler’s largest donor is Clean Virginia, a political organization focused on energy and government ethics, which contributed $50,000.

Keep reading 

Beth Barts, subject of Loudoun County, Va., school board recall effort, resigns

In other Virginia news, here’s an update that came late on Oct. 15. Beth Barts, the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia, announced her resignation effective Nov. 2. Barts was the subject of a recall effort that included five other members of the board.

Barts’ announcement comes 10 days after Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Jeanette Irby ruled the recall could advance to a full trial. At the Oct. 5 pretrial hearing, Irby denied Barts’ motion to dismiss the recall petition against her since an attorney did not sign her motion. In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than through a public vote.

Barts was first elected on Nov. 5, 2019, receiving 54.8% of the vote. Though school board elections in Virginia are nonpartisan, the Loudoun County Democratic Committee supported Barts.

In her resignation announcement, Barts said, “This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family.” Her attorney said he expected the recall case against Barts to be declared moot.

The school board will select Barts’ successor, who must be a qualified voter living in the school board’s Leesburg District.

Supporters of Barts’ recall are also circulating petitions against five other members of the nine-member school board in Northern Virginia.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts tracked in a single year. The next-highest year was 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

Keep reading 

Democrats gain majority in the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives after special election

On Oct. 16, Corina Magofna (D) defeated Grace Sablan Vaiagae (R) in a special election for District 3 of the Northern Mariana Islands House of Representatives. Magofna’s victory changed the party control of the seat, which Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R) represented from 2017 until his death on July 23, 2021.

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is one of five unincorporated, organized U.S. territories. An unincorporated territory is a self-governing entity subject to the federal government. CNMI’s legislature consists of a Senate and House. There are 20 House members—18 elected from Saipan and the islands north of it, one from Rota, and one from Tinian and Aguiguan. Representatives serve two-year terms and are not subject to term limits.

The special election tipped the partisan scales in the House. Heading into the election, Democrats and Republicans both held eight seats with independents representing three. Magofna’s victory gives Democrats nine seats to Republicans’ eight. Of the three independents, one is affiliated with Republicans and two are affiliated with Democrats, giving the Democratic-Independent bloc a governing majority in the chamber.

As recently as 2019, there were no declared Democrats serving in the territorial House.

Republicans have a 5-1-3 majority in the territorial Senate. There are three independents and one Democrat. The territory’s governor, Ralph Torres, is a Republican.

Keep reading



Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactments between Oct. 6 and 13

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

At least eight states made progress in either proposing or advancing new congressional and state legislative district maps as part of the 2020 redistricting cycle between Oct. 6 and 13, 2021.

Proposed

Massachusetts: The Special Joint Committee on Redistricting released proposed maps of state House and Senate districts on Oct. 12. The committee will accept public comments on the proposals until Oct. 18. In Massachusetts, the state legislature is responsible for redistricting, though Gov. Charlie Baker (R) may veto any proposals. Democrats currently hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the legislature.

View the proposals here.

South Dakota: On Oct. 7 and Oct. 11, the South Dakota House and Senate Redistricting Committees released two new state legislative maps titled Grouse and Eagle, respectively. These maps join the two Senate proposals—titled Blackbird and Falcon—released on Oct. 2 as the four proposed maps circulated during the committees’ statewide public hearing tour between Oct. 11 and Oct. 13. 

The committees will meet next on Oct. 18 to incorporate public feedback.

Since South Dakota was apportioned a single seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, there will be no congressional redistricting in the state in 2020.

View the proposals here.

Utah: Both the Utah Independent Redistricting Committee (UIRC) and the Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee (ULRC) released initial congressional, state House, and state Senate maps.

This is the first redistricting cycle after Utah voters approved Proposition 4 in 2018. As written, the proposition created the UIRC, which would draft maps and recommend them to the state legislature for final approval. Before this, the legislature alone proposed and approved maps. In 2020, the Utah State Legislature reached an agreement with Proposition 4 supporters and altered the proposition to reintroduce a legislative committee (ULRC) that could also propose maps.

View the proposals here.

Advanced

Arkansas: On Oct. 7, the Arkansas General Assembly approved two identical proposed congressional maps, sending them to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R). The proposals—House Bill 1982 and Senate Bill 743—were introduced by Rep. Nelda Speaks (R) and Sen. Jane English (R), respectively.

On Oct. 13, Hutchinson announced that he would not sign the bills into law, meaning they would go into effect without his signature in 90 days. Hutchinson said he was concerned about how the maps might affect minority voters.

The proposals split Pulaski County—where less than 50% of voters identify as white alone—into three separate districts. Proponents of the proposal said splitting Pulaski County, which is located in the center of the state, allowed them to avoid splitting counties elsewhere.

Hutchinson could have vetoed the legislation, but in Arkansas, a gubernatorial veto can be overridden with a simple majority vote. Hutchinson said the 90-day window would allow interested parties time to challenge the maps.

View the proposals here.

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission approved its final state House and Senate maps. The commission approved its final House map on Oct. 11 with an 11-1 vote. The group could not agree on a Senate map and reconvened on Oct. 12, its self-imposed deadline. Commissioners ultimately approved a Senate map with a 12-0 vote on Oct. 12.

The approved maps will now move to the Colorado Supreme Court, which will receive commentary. The court will either approve the final maps or send them back to the commission for further work by Nov. 15.

The separate Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission previously selected its final map on Sept. 28.

View the proposals here.

Michigan: The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission voted on Oct. 11 to approve four congressional maps, three state Senate maps, and three state House maps for a final series of public hearings, which will take place around the state between Oct. 20 and Oct. 26.

View the proposals here.

Texas: On Oct. 7, the Texas House of Representatives approved a proposed map of the state’s House districts. The following day, on Oct. 8, the Texas State Senate approved a congressional district map proposed by Sen. Joan Huffman (R). The Senate previously approved a new map of the state’s Senate districts on Oct. 4.

New district plans must be finalized on or before Nov. 15 in order for the state’s primary election calendar to remain unchanged. The filing deadline for 2022 elections is currently Dec. 13, the earliest in the nation, and the primary is scheduled for March 1, 2022. If maps are approved after Nov. 15, the filing deadline could be moved to as late as March 7, 2022, with the primary on May 24.

View the proposals here.

West Virginia: The West Virginia Senate Redistricting Committee voted to recommend a proposed congressional and state Senate map to the full Senate on Oct. 11, 2021, the first day of the legislature’s special session. Both proposals were introduced by Sen. Charles Trump (R), the committee’s chairman. Due to population decline, West Virginia was apportioned two congressional seats following the 2020 census, a decrease from the three seats the state received following the 2010 census.

View the proposals here.

Enacted

No new maps were enacted between Oct. 6 and Oct. 13. 

As of Oct. 13, four states—Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon—had enacted new congressional district maps. Those four states plus Illinois and Ohio had also enacted new state legislative district maps.



The highest cost-per-vote statewide ballot measures

Welcome to the Friday, October 15, Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Maine’s Question 1 could have the highest cost-per-vote ratio recorded by Ballotpedia
  2. One federal judicial nominee confirmed since Senate’s return to session
  3. Voters flip Iowa House seat to Republican in Oct. 12 special election 

Maine’s Question 1 could have the highest cost-per-vote ratio recorded by Ballotpedia

Maine’s Question 1, a citizen-initiated measure, could see one of the highest cost-per-vote ratios for a ballot measure that Ballotpedia has recorded. The measure would prohibit the construction of certain electric transmission lines in the state’s Upper Kennebec Region unless two-thirds of the members of both chambers of the legislature approve the development of such lines. Question 1 was designed to stop the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), a 145-mile long, high-voltage transmission line project in the region.

Supporters raised more than $71.8 million through Sept. 30, equal to $52.71 for each of Maine’s 1.4 million residents. The final cost-per-vote will be higher than that figure since additional contributions will be reported and only a portion of residents will turn out to vote.

If turnout this November is similar to turnout in recent election cycles (between 17% and 34% from 2015-2019), between 203,000 and 380,000 voters may cast ballots. That would result in a cost-per-vote ratio of anywhere between $189 and $353 for Question 1. 

Of the five highest cost-per-vote ratios since 2017, three have addressed policies related to energy. Voters rejected all five. Here’s a closer look at those five highest cost-per-vote ratios in that time with Maine estimates for comparison:

  • Nevada’s Question 3 (2018): $100.85. It would have required the state legislature to pass laws to establish “an open, competitive retail electric energy market” and prohibited the state from granting electrical-generation monopolies.
  • Ohio’s Issue 2 (2017): $37.79. It would have required state agencies and programs to purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for them.
  • Arizona’s Proposition 127 (2018): $23.80. The measure would have required electric utilities in Arizona to acquire a certain percentage of electricity from renewable resources each year, with the percentage increasing annually from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030.

An influx of money does not, by itself, guarantee a high cost-per-vote ratio. State population and voter turnout play an important role. For example, California’s Proposition 22, which defined app-based rideshare and delivery drivers as independent contractors, is the most expensive ballot measure on record. Supporters and opponents raised over $224.3 million, which was about $5.67 per California resident. Seventeen million million people voted on Proposition 22, giving it a cost-per-vote ratio of $13.11 per vote.

While Ballotpedia does not track cost-per-vote ratios in other races, the U.S. Senate election in Maine between incumbent Sen. Susan Collins (R) and Sara Gideon (D) in 2020 saw $106,649,052 raised, resulting in a ratio of $130.19 per vote.

Keep reading 

One federal judicial nominee confirmed since Senate’s return to session

Since returning from its August recess, the U.S. Senate has confirmed one of U.S. President Joe Biden’s (D) federal judicial nominees: Sarah A.L. Merriam to the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Merriam previously served as a federal magistrate judge on the same court since 2015.

Biden nominated Merriam to the court on June 15 to replace Janet Hall, who assumed senior status on Jan. 21. The Senate confirmed Merriam on Oct. 6 by a 54-46 vote. All 48 Democrats, both independents, and four Republicans—Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.)—voted to confirm Merriam. Republicans cast all 46 votes against Merriam’s confirmation.

To date, 16 of Biden’s federal judicial nominees have been confirmed, the earliest that benchmark has been reached by any president since at least Ronald Reagan (R). The chart below shows the length of time, in days, it took the last seven presidents to confirm 16 federal judicial nominees:

As of Oct. 14, 11 Article III judicial nominees are awaiting a confirmation vote from the full U.S. Senate, five nominees are awaiting a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to advance their nominations to the full Senate, and 19 nominees are awaiting a hearing before the committee.

Keep reading 

Voters flip Iowa House seat to Republican in Oct. 12 special election

A special election was held for Iowa’s House of Representatives District 29 on Oct. 12. Jon Dunwell (R) won the special election with 59.8% of the vote, defeating Steve Mullan (D).

The special election was called after Rep. Wesley Breckenridge (D) resigned to take a job with the Iowa Law Enforcement Agency on Sept. 10. Breckenridge served from 2017 to 2021 and most recently defeated Dunwell in the 2020 election. Democrats had held District 29 since the district lines were redrawn after the 2010 census.

Voter turnout decreased by 71% compared to the 2020 general election.

This was the third state legislative special election held in Iowa in 2021. One was held for Senate District 41 on Jan. 26 and another for House District 37 on Sept. 14.

As of Oct. 14, three state legislative seats had flipped party control in 2021 as a result of state legislative special elections nationwide. Connecticut State Senate District 36 flipped from Democratic to Republican and New Hampshire’s House of Representatives District Hillsborough 7 flipped from Republican to Democratic. 

If no more state legislative seats change party control in a special election this year, it would be the lowest number of such events since 2010, when no seats flipped. From 2010 to 2020, an average of 10 state legislative seats changed party control in special elections each year.

Keep reading



The rules and requirements for political parties

Welcome to the Tuesday, October 12 Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. What does it take to start a political party?
  2. Map of the week: Statewide primaries by month in 2022
  3. Who is supporting, opposing the police staffing and training measure in Austin, Texas?

What does it take to start a political party?

On Oct. 5, Andrew Yang, a former Democratic candidate for mayor of New York and president of the United States, announced he was no longer registered as a Democrat and would form the Forward Party. 

According to its website, the Forward Party is “a PAC that plans to grow its support and then petition the FEC for recognition as a political party when we fulfill the requirements, which include operating in several states, supporting candidates, getting volunteers signed up around the country, and other party activities.”

In order to qualify for ballot placement, the Forward Party will have to meet certain requirements that vary from state to state. Let’s take a look at three:

  • In Colorado, there are three types of political entities: qualified political organizations (QPOs), minor parties, and major parties. Groups must begin as a QPO, which involves filing with the state and holding annual meetings to elect leaders and select candidates, at least one of whom must be certified for the general election ballot every two years. A QPO can become a minor party if one of its candidates receives at least five percent of the vote in a statewide election, if at least 1,000 voters register with it, or if it submits signatures from 10,000 registered voters. QPOs or minor parties become major parties if a candidate receives at least 10 percent of the total votes cast in a gubernatorial election.
  • In Texas, a group can form a political party by submitting organizational materials like bylaws, methods of selecting candidates, and a list of officers to the secretary of state.
  • In New York, a political party is defined as any political organization whose candidate for governor at the last preceding election received at least 130,000 votes or two percent of all votes cast for the office, whichever is greater. By this metric, a group cannot apply for party status before the election, but rather must field a candidate for governor through the independent nomination process and then receive the required number of votes.

The number of ballot-qualified political parties nationwide changes as parties gain or lose qualified status. As of Nov. 2020, there were 47 unique, individual parties across the country with 225 state-level ballot-qualified political party affiliates nationwide. This means that some parties are recognized in multiple states. For example, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are recognized in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. These two parties account for 102 of the 225 total state-level parties. Three minor parties were recognized in more than 10 states as of Nov. 2020:

  • Libertarian Party: 35 states
  • Green Party: 22 states
  • Constitution Party: 15 states

In addition, some states distinguish between major parties and minor parties. Specific differences between major and minor parties differ from state to state. For example, in all states, major parties are granted access to primary elections. Some states, however, do not permit minor parties to participate in primary elections. Consequently, minor party candidates in these states can run only in general elections.

These are just a few of the rules and regulations Yang’s new Forward Party will need to navigate as the PAC begins to work towards party recognition.

Keep reading 

Map of the week: Statewide primaries by month in 2022

The 2022 primary election cycle kicks off in r March 2022 in two states: North Carolina and Texas. Voters use primary elections to select candidates who then advance to the general election. In most states, primaries are partisan, meaning voters of one party select their party’s candidate while voters of another party select theirs in their own, separate primaries.

Here’s a look at when states will be holding primaries in 2022 by month:

  • June: 18 states
  • August: 14 states
  • May: 11 states
  • September: 4 states
  • March: 2 states

One state—Louisiana—technically holds its primaries in November with all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, running on the same ballot. If a candidate receives over 50% of the vote, he or she wins outright, but if not, then the race advances to a runoff election in December between the top two vote-getters.

Not all of the election dates shown above are set in stone. States may choose to rearrange their election calendars compared to previous election cycles as we head into 2022.

Other issues might also cause a shift. For example, in Texas, lawmakers have already approved a bill that would allow the state to move its primary date if new redistricting maps are not selected by certain deadlines. The state will keep its place as having the earliest primary elections—March 1–only if a redistricting plan is adopted on or before Nov. 15. If the plan comes later than that, the primary would be moved to April 5 or May 24.

Keep reading

Who is supporting, opposing the police staffing and training measure in Austin, Texas?

Voters in Austin, Texas, will decide Proposition A on Nov. 2. The citizen initiative would establish a minimum police staffing requirement of two police officers for every 1,000 city residents. It would also require an additional 40 hours of training for officers each year and provide police with pay boosts for being proficient in non-English languages and being recognized for honorable conduct.

Two groups—Save Austin Now and No Way on A—have organized as the leading supporters and opponents of the measure, respectively.

Supporters:

Save Austin Now was co-founded by Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, and includes Ken Casady, president of the Austin Police Association, as a board member. 

The group has raised $2.0 million through the end of September and has spent around $1.8 million leaving them with roughly $200,000 cash on hand.

Top donors included Charles Maund Toyota, a local car dealership, which donated $100,000. Danielle Royston, a telecommunications executive, donated $98,000 and Joe Liemandt, a software executive, gave $75,000.

Save Austin Now also sponsored the measure banning camping in public places that Austin voters approved on May 1, 2021.

Opposition:

No Way on A is funded by the Equity PAC. The group launched in early September and reported at least $860,000 raised through the end of the month. 

The Open Society Policy Center, a nonprofit founded and chaired by investor George Soros, contributed $500,000 to the campaign on Sept. 27. The nonprofit also donated $500,000 to support Minneapolis’ Question 2, an initiative on that city’s Nov. 2 ballot to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a department of public safety.

The campaign also reported a $200,000 contribution from the Fairness Project, a nonprofit that has supported minimum wage, paid time off, and Medicaid expansion initiatives in at least a dozen states since 2016.

Additional opponents of Proposition A include Austin Mayor Stephen Adler (D), the Travis County Democratic Party, the Austin Firefighters Association, and Black Lives Matter Austin.

Austin voters will also decide Proposition B on the Nov. 2 ballot, which concerns the city selling or leasing nine acres of parkland through a public bidding process.

Keep reading



Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactments between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6

At least nine states made progress in either proposing, advancing, or enacting new congressional and state legislative district maps as part of the 2020 redistricting process between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6.

Proposed

New maps were proposed in Colorado, Ohio, Washington, and West Virginia.

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission released its third staff-drawn plan for the state’s House and Senate districts on Oct. 5. The release of this proposal comes one week before the 12-person commission’s Oct. 12 deadline to select a final map out of the existing proposals.

This is the first redistricting cycle in Colorado since the adoption of Constitutional Amendment Z in 2018, which created a non-politician commission to develop new state legislative maps. The commission is made up of four Democrats, four Republicans, and four unaffiliated members. At least eight of the 12 commissioners, including two of the unaffiliated members, must vote in favor of a map for it to be approved and sent to the Colorado Supreme Court for next steps.

If the commission cannot select a map by the Oct. 12 deadline, one of the three staff-drawn maps will be sent to the court instead.

View the proposals here.

Ohio: Democratic State Sens. Kenny Yuko (D) and Vernon Sykes (D) released a proposed congressional district map on Sept. 30, the final day for the legislature to take the first pass at congressional maps. No action was taken on the map and the legislature missed the deadline.

What happens next was decided by voters in 2018 when they approved Issue 1, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment.

Under the amendment, since the legislature did not select a map by its first deadline, the process moves over to a redistricting commission made up of the governor, auditor, and secretary of state—all Republicans—and four legislators, at least two of whom must belong to the minority party, which, in this case, is the Democratic Party. The commission may approve a map with a majority vote but only if at least two minority party members are voting in favor. If the commission cannot select a map it moves back to the legislature for a second round. Learn more here.

Republicans currently hold majorities in both the House (64-35) and Senate (25-8). 

View the proposed map here.

Washington: The state’s four voting redistricting commissioners each released proposed congressional district maps on Sept. 28. These maps will be the subject of a virtual meeting on Oct. 9. Members of the public are invited to participate. The deadline for the commission to finalize its maps is Nov. 15.

The release of the congressional maps comes one week after the commissioners each released their proposed state legislative district maps on Sept. 21. A public meeting over those proposals was held on Oct. 5.

In Washington, congressional and state legislative lines are redrawn by a five-person non-politician commission. The majority and minority leaders of the Washington state House and Senate each appoint one registered voter. These four appointed commissioners then appoint a fifth, non-voting member, to serve as chair.

View the proposals here.

West Virginia: On Sept. 30, the House and Senate Redistricting committees released a collective total of 18 congressional district map proposals, the first proposed maps released during the state’s 2020 redistricting cycle.

In addition to its congressional map proposals, the House Redistricting Committee also released its first proposed state legislative district map for the House of Delegates. No senate maps were included in the initial release.

In West Virginia, both the House and Senate propose congressional maps. For state legislative map proposals, each chamber is responsible for originating its own maps.

View the proposals here.

Advanced

Arkansas and Texas got one step closer to enacting new maps as proposals advanced to the next stage.

Arkansas: On Sept. 29, legislators in Arkansas reconvened in a special session to, among other things, consider new congressional district maps. On Oct. 6, two identical proposals, one from the House and one from the Senate, passed out of their respective committees.

The proposals—House Bill 1982 and Senate Bill 743—were introduced by Rep. Nelda Speaks (R) and Sen. Jane English (R), respectively. Over 30 proposals were filed, with these two also coming within the past week.

At the time of writing, these bills had not yet passed through the legislature in full, but local commentary appeared to believe the proposed map would ultimately make it to the desk of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who then has the ability to either sign or veto the map.

View the proposed map here.

Texas: The Texas State Senate voted 20-11 in favor of a proposed map of the state’s Senate districts on Oct. 4. 

The vote fell largely along party lines. Seventeen Republicans voted in favor of the proposal and were joined by three Democrats: Sens. Juan Hinojosa, Eddie Lucio, and Judith Zaffirini. The remaining 10 Democrats in the chamber voted against the proposal in addition to Republican Sen. Kel Seliger.

View the proposed map here.

Enacted

Three states—Indiana, Maine, and Nebraska—enacted new congressional and state legislative maps. In each state, the legislature was responsible for redrawing the district lines which were then sent to the governor for final approval. Indiana and Nebraska account for 12 congressional districts. Both states currently have Republican trifectas. Maine, which has two congressional districts, is a Democratic trifecta.



New congressional and state legislative maps in three states

Welcome to the Friday, October 8, Brew. Just a heads up: there will be no Brew on Monday but we will be back in your inbox on Tuesday. Enjoy the long weekend!

By: Doug Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Redistricting Roundup: Three more states adopt new maps
  2. Loudoun County, Va., Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial
  3. Two challengers defeat city council incumbents in Birmingham, Ala., general runoff election

Note: Louisiana’s primary elections were originally scheduled for tomorrow, Oct. 9, but were moved to Nov. 13 due to damage caused by Hurricane Ida. Learn more.

Redistricting Roundup: Three more states adopt new maps

Three states—Indiana, Maine, and Nebraska—adopted new congressional district maps between Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. Oregon is the only other state to adopt a congressional map in the 2020 redistricting cycle so far.

At this point in the 2010 cycle, 21 states had adopted congressional district maps. The relative delay in 2021 is caused by a delay in the delivery of census data. During the 2010 cycle, states began receiving block-level census data near the start of 2011. In 2021, by comparison, this data was not released until Aug. 12.

In each of these three states, the state legislature is responsible for drawing new district lines, which must then be signed by the governor before going into effect. Indiana and Nebraska, which, collectively, have 12 congressional districts, are both Republican trifectas, meaning Republicans control the legislature and the governorship. Maine, with two congressional districts, is a Democratic trifecta.

In addition to their congressional maps, these states also approved new state legislative district maps.

Here’s a breakdown. Click on the state names to learn more.

Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed the state’s new maps into law on Oct. 4. The Indiana General Assembly approved these maps largely along party lines. 

In a statement issued after signing the state’s new district boundaries, Gov. Holcomb said, “I want to thank both the House and Senate for faithfully following through in an orderly and transparent way. And, a special thanks to every Hoosier who participated in the process by sharing their local perspective and input.” 

In a statement following approval of the maps in the Assembly, State Sen. Eddie Melton (D) said, “I’m very disappointed by the partisan nature of the redistricting process as well as the actions by the supermajority to deliberately dilute minority voices.”

Maine: Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed the state’s new maps into law on Sept. 29. The Maine State Legislature approved the new congressional map with unanimous support. In Maine, a two-thirds majority is required to pass congressional maps. 

The legislature also voted unanimously in favor of the new Senate boundaries. The state Senate unanimously supported the new House lines, and the House voted 119-10 in favor of them.

Upon signing the new district plans, Gov. Mills released a statement congratulating legislators “for preparing and approving new maps that fulfill our commitment to making sure Maine people are equally and fairly represented in their government,” adding, “To have done so without rancor and partisanship and under a constrained timeline is something Maine people can be proud of.”

Nebraska: Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) signed the state’s new maps into law on Sept. 30. The Nebraska State Senate approved the congressional map by a 35-11 vote, with all dissenting votes coming from Democrats. All Republicans in attendance along with four Democrats voted in favor of the map. The legislature approved the state legislative map by a 37-7 vote. Five Democrats and two Republicans voted against the map. Eight Democrats and 29 Republicans voted in favor of the map.

While the Nebraska State Senate is officially nonpartisan, Ballotpedia collects information from numerous sources such as voter registration websites, party endorsement lists, and news coverage to determine partisan affiliations.

Following the approval of the maps, Sen. Justin Wayne (D) said: “It was a very frustrating process, but we got to a good result.” Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), chair of the redistricting committee, expressed approval of the maps and, regarding the possibility of partisan impasse, said she was “constantly reminded how capable Sen. Wayne is” during the negotiations.

Loudoun County, Va., Circuit Court rules school board recall may advance to trial

An effort to recall Beth Barts from her position as the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia moved forward at a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5. At the hearing, Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge Jeanette Irby ruled that the recall effort could advance to a full trial, denying Barts’ motion to dismiss the petition against her since it was not signed by an attorney.

The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor to take the place of Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj, whom recall supporters alleged was a friend of Barts’. The case will go to trial after the special prosecutor is named.

Barts was first elected on Nov. 5, 2019, receiving 54.8% of the vote. Though school board elections in Virginia are nonpartisan, Barts is supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Supporters of Barts’ recall are also circulating petitions against four other members of the nine-member school board in Northern Virginia. In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than through a public vote. Virginia allows an official to be recalled on the following grounds: neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes.

Ballotpedia has tracked 74 school board recall efforts against 192 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have ever tracked in one year. The next-highest number was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

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Two challengers defeat city council incumbents in Birmingham, Ala., general runoff election

Incumbent City Councilmen William Parker and John Hilliard lost to challengers J.T. Moore and LaTonya Tate, respectively, in the Oct. 5 general runoff election in Birmingham, Ala. The races for these two seats on the nine-seat city council advanced to a runoff after no candidate received a majority vote in the city’s Aug. 24 general election.

Parker, first elected to District 4 in 2013, placed first in the general election with 42% of the vote followed by Moore with 23%. In the runoff, Moore’s vote share increased to 58% while Parker’s remained the same. Hilliard, first elected to District 9 in 2017, similarly placed first in the general election with 49% followed by Tate with 29%. In the runoff, Tate received 52% of the vote to Hilliard’s 48%.

Turnout in the Oct. 5 runoff was lower than the Aug. 24 general. In District 4, the total number of votes cast decreased by 66% from 3,587 on Aug. 24 to 1,215 on Oct. 5. In District 5, the number decreased by 58% from 4,499 to 1,914.

Candidates also competed for two seats on the nine-seat Birmingham Board of Education. In District 9, Jason Meadows earned 72.1% of the vote, defeating Le’Darius Hilliard with 27.9%. The District 1 race remained too close to call, with only a few votes separating incumbent Douglas Ragland from challenger Sherman Collins Jr.

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The Daily Brew: Ballotpedia’s 2021 Elections To Watch

Welcome to the Monday, October 4, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Briefing—Ballotpedia’s 2021 Elections To Watch
  2. First candidate filing deadlines for 2022 currently set for December
  3. Voters in Juneau, Alaska, decide today whether to renew 3% sales tax

Briefing—Ballotpedia’s 2021 Elections To Watch

The November general elections are less than a month away and we’ve been keeping a close eye on some of the most interesting races that will reshape city and state politics across the country heading into 2022. 

Tomorrow, Oct. 6, Ballotpedia Staff Writer Amée LaTour will be digging into elections ranging from Virginia’s governor to Cleveland’s mayor as part of a briefing on Ballotpedia’s 2021 Elections To Watch

Here’s a quick look at some of the races we will be discussing:

  • In Virginia, voters will be casting ballots for all 100 members of the House of Delegates as well as electing a new governor. The outcome of these elections will determine whether Democrats maintain their newly won trifecta status in the state or if Republicans return Virginia to divided government. Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the House of Delegates, making this the first time since 1999 Democrats are defending a House majority. Ballotpedia has identified 22 battleground House races: Democrats hold 16 and Republicans hold six.

In the race for governor, just last week, the Cook Political Report changed its rating from “Lean Democratic” to “Toss-up” as former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and investment executive Glenn Youngkin (R) participated in their second, and final, debate.

According to Ballotpedia’s Power Index, an election forecasting tool that factors in polling averages and PredictIt prices, the race narrowed slightly last week with McAuliffe and Youngkin’s chances of winning at 79% and 21%, respectively.

  • In Cleveland, incumbent Mayor Frank Jackson (D) is not seeking re-election, making this the city’s first open race for mayor since 2001. Two candidates advanced out of a seven-way primary: tech executive Justin Bibb (D) and City Council President Kevin Kelley (D). Bibb, who has never held office, is emphasizing a theme of fresh leadership while Kelley, who was first elected to the Cleveland City Council in 2005, is promoting his experience and record. Bibb received endorsements from Our Revolution Ohio and two former mayors: Michael White (D) and Jane Campbell (D). Kelley received endorsements from incumbent Mayor Jackson, four city council members, and numerous local unions.
  • In Seattle, homelessness has emerged as a major issue in the mayoral race between the city’s former and current city council presidents: Bruce Harrell and Lorena González. King County, where Seattle is located, has the third-highest number of people without homes of any metro area in the country, behind only New York City and Los Angeles. Harrell and González disagree over the issues of encampments, groups of people living without homes in spaces like public parks, and zoning. Harrell said he supports removing people from encampments if they are offered and refuse some form of alternative shelter. González opposes that approach. To create more affordable housing, González wants to change city zoning laws to allow apartments in neighborhoods where current zoning allows only single-family homes. Harrell opposes that, saying community input is needed before changing zoning laws.

Learn more about these exciting races and several others by registering for the upcoming briefing using the link below!

Register now 

First candidate filing deadlines for 2022 are currently set for December

The first filing deadlines for primary candidates in the 2022 election cycle are currently set to take place in Texas and North Carolina on Dec. 13 and 17, respectively, though redistricting deadlines could result in changes. Eight states will see their filing deadlines in January and February of 2022. Eighteen states have deadlines in March while 12 have deadlines set in April and May. The remaining 10 have filing deadlines in June and July. 

Keep in mind: these deadlines are tentative. Delays in the redistricting process may alter the filing deadlines. For example, lawmakers in Texas already passed a bill that provides for a postponed primary and candidate filing deadline if new district maps are not in place by the following dates:

  • If a redistricting plan is adopted on or before Nov. 15, the primary date and candidate filing deadline remain unchanged.
  • If a plan is adopted after Nov. 15 and on or before Dec. 28, the primary is moved to April 5, and the filing deadline is to Jan. 24.
  • If a plan is adopted after Dec. 28 and on or before Feb. 7, the primary goes to May 24 and the filing deadline is moved to March 7.

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Voters in Juneau, Alaska, decide today whether to renew a 3% sales tax 

The November election may be less than a month away, but there are still active elections throughout October. Today, voters in Juneau, Alaska, will decide on a ballot measure—Proposition 1—to renew the city’s 3% temporary sales tax for five years. If voters don’t approve Proposition 1, the tax would expire on July 1, 2022. If voters approve Proposition 1, the city’s total sales tax rate would remain at 5% — this 3% temporary tax, a separate 1% temporary tax, and a 1% permanent sales tax. If voters reject Proposition 1, the total sales tax rate in the city would drop to 2%.

The Juneau Assembly’s intended use of the revenue from the tax would continue to allocate revenue as it does currently:

  1. 1% police, fire, street maintenance, snow removal, EMT/ambulance service, parks and recreation, libraries, and other general purposes;
  2. 1% roads, drainage, retaining walls, sidewalks, stairs, and other capital improvements; and
  3. 1% allocated annually by the assembly among capital improvements, an emergency budget reserve, and other general public services.

Residents voted 76-24% to renew the temporary tax in October 2016. At the same time, voters rejected a measure 66-34% that would have made the 3% sales tax permanent. Juneau Budget Analyst Adrien Speegle estimated the tax generates $30 million per year.

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Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactments between Sept. 22 and 29

Redistricting map updates: proposals, advancements, and enactments between Sept. 22 and 29

At least eight states made progress in either proposing, advancing, or enacting new district maps between Sept. 22 and 29.

Proposed

New maps were proposed in Arkansas, Georgia, and North Dakota.

Arkansas: Between Sept. 9 and 27, fifteen state legislators—nine Republicans and six Democrats—introduced 17 proposed maps of the state’s four congressional districts. The House and Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee met jointly on Sept. 20, 23, and 27 to consider these proposals, which now go before the Arkansas State Legislature, which began a special session on Sept. 29.

In Arkansas, the state legislature is responsible for congressional redistricting. State legislative districts, on the other hand, are drawn by the Arkansas Board of Apportionment, a three-person board made up of Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), Atty. Gen. Leslie Rutledge (R), and Sec. of State John Thurston (R). As of Sept. 29, the board had not released any draft state legislative maps.

View the proposals here.

Georgia: On Sept. 27, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) and state Sen. John Kennedy (R) released the first draft proposal of the state’s new congressional districts. The Georgia General Assembly will consider this proposal and any others released over the coming month at a special legislative session starting Nov. 3.

View the proposed map here.

North Dakota: The North Dakota Legislative Redistricting Committee released a statewide draft map for state legislative districts on Sept. 23. The Associated Press’ James MacPherson wrote that the proposal adds three districts to the state’s fastest-growing regions—Fargo and areas experiencing an oil boom—with an equal number removed from other rural areas.

View the proposals here.

Advanced

Colorado, Indiana, and Nebraska got one step closer to enacting new maps as proposals advanced to the next stage.

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission voted 11-1 in support of a congressional map plan, sending it to the Colorado Supreme Court for final approval. Due to population growth, Colorado received an eighth congressional district, which was drawn to include areas north of Denver and encompassing Greeley, one of the fastest-growing towns in the state. The district would also have a Hispanic population of 39%, the largest such concentration in the state.

View the proposed map here.

Indiana: The Indiana House of Representatives voted 67-31 on Sept. 23 in support of proposed state legislative and congressional maps. Three Republicans—Reps. Jeff Ellington, Matt Hostettler, and John Jacob—joined 28 Democrats in opposing the maps. All 67 votes in favor of the maps were from Republicans. The proposals advanced to the Senate, which is expected to hold a vote on Oct. 1. 

View the proposals here.

Nebraska: The Nebraska State Legislature gave first- and second-round approval to a set of congressional and state legislative maps on Sept. 24 and 28, respectively. The maps, introduced by Redistricting Committee Chairwoman Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (R), have been amended and will face a third and likely final round of voting. If passed, the maps then proceed to the Secretary of State’s office.

View the proposals here.

Approved

The governors of Illinois and Oregon signed new maps into law.

Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) signed adjusted state legislative maps into law on Sept. 24. Pritzker previously enacted new state legislative districts on June 4. Those maps were based on American Community Survey data. On Aug. 31, the Illinois State Legislature reconvened to adjust the maps to account for the release of 2020 census data, which resulted in the copy ultimately signed into law.

Oregon: On Sept. 27, the Oregon State Legislature approved final congressional and state legislative district maps. Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the maps into law the same day.



State legislative elections in 2021 are the most contested since at least 2010

Two hundred and twenty state legislative seats are up for election on Nov. 2, 2021, in three state legislative chambers: the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly and the Virginia House of Delegates.

According to Ballotpedia’s Annual State Legislative Competitiveness Report, state legislative elections in 2021 are the most competitive since at least 2010.

Ballotpedia’s Competitiveness Index is a standalone figure representing the general level of competition in an election cycle. It is calculated using the percentages of open seats, incumbents in contested primaries, and seats with major party competition.

The 2021 state legislative election cycle received a Competitiveness Index of 40.2, the highest on record, to date.

This increase in competitiveness was driven largely by an increase in major party competition in the Virginia House of Delegates. Major party competition refers to races where both a Democrat and Republican are contesting a seat in the general election. Of the 220 seats up for election, 205—93%—will see major party competition in November.

The New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly typically have high levels of major party competition every election cycle. In the Virginia House of Delegates, however, there are 93 contested seats in 2021 compared to 41 in 2011—a 78% difference.

The percentage of open seats—seats where the incumbent did not file for re-election—was at its lowest since at least 2013. Of the 220 incumbents, 17—7.7%—did not file for re-election: seven Democrats and ten Republicans.

The chart below shows the percentage of open seats from 2011 to 2021. This includes not only elections in New Jersey and Virginia but Louisiana and Mississippi, as well. Those states hold elections every four years in odd years immediately preceding a presidential election year (2011, 2015, 2019, etc.).

The percentage of open seats tends to dip in the years immediately following a presidential election. This is partly because states holding elections those years—New Jersey and Virginia—do not have term limits. Louisiana, on the other hand, has term limits for legislators, which dictate how long an incumbent can remain in office.

The chart below shows the raw number of open seats from each odd-year election cycle since 2011. The yellow bar represents incumbents who could not legally seek re-election due to term limits and the brown bar represents all other departures. In 2019, term-limited departures accounted for 45.6% of all open seats.

In 2021, those incumbents who filed for re-election faced contested primaries at a lower rate than in 2019, but higher than rates from the start of the decade. Since 2011, the percentage of incumbents facing contested primaries has progressively increased in odd-year election cycles.

Overall, 203 incumbents filed for re-election, 80% of whom advanced to the general election without a primary challenge. The remaining 20% represented 40 incumbents: 23 Democrats and 17 Republicans.

These contested primaries resulted in the defeats of eight incumbents: five Democrats and three Republicans. Eight defeats is a relatively high number for the three chambers holding elections in 2021. Before 2021, the highest number of incumbents defeated in primaries in a given election cycle was two.

Ahead of the general elections, 2021 is already tied for the second-most incumbents defeated in these chambers since 2011.

Use the links below to learn more about Ballotpedia’s Annual State Legislative Competitiveness including historical comparisons, chamber-specific analyses, and additional context:



Four states release proposed redistricting maps between Sept. 15 and 22

Four states— Alaska, Arkansas, Texas, and Washington— released proposed redistricting maps between Sept. 15 and 22.

Alaska: The Alaska Redistricting Board adopted six proposed state legislative maps at its Sept. 20 meeting: two prepared by the board and four proposed by third-party organizations. The board originally released its two proposals on Sept. 9 but replaced those proposals with two revised versions at the latest meeting. At the same time, the board approved maps designed by:

  • Coalition of Doyon, Ltd., Tanana Chiefs Conference, Fairbanks Native Association, Sealaska, and Ahtna
  • Alaskans for Fair and Equitable Redistricting (AFFER)
  • Alaskans for Fair Redistricting (AFFR)
  • The Senate Minority Caucus

The Alaska Democratic Party also proposed a map, but it was not adopted by the board. According to Board Chairman John Binkley (R), the board will now begin a public meeting tour around the state to discuss the six proposed maps with attendees before making its final decision.

View the proposals here.

Arkansas: The House and Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committees met jointly for the first time on Sept. 20 to discuss proposed maps for the state’s four congressional districts. Between Sept. 9 and 15, three legislators— Reps. Nelda Speaks (R), Jack Ladyman (R), and David Whitaker (D)— introduced congressional redistricting proposals. 

The Sept. 20 meeting was the first of three for the joint committees and it was set up to consider proposals introduced before Sept. 17. The remaining two meetings were scheduled for Sept. 23, to consider maps proposed by Sept. 21, and Sept. 27, to consider maps proposed by Sept. 24. According to earlier reports, the Arkansas State Legislature will reconvene on Sept. 29 to deliberate.

In Arkansas, the legislature is responsible for congressional redistricting while a separate Board of Apportionment is responsible for state legislative redistricting. That board consists of the governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

View the proposals here.

Texas: The Senate Redistricting Committee released a draft of a Senate legislative map on Sept. 18, making it the first proposed map released during the state’s 2020 redistricting cycle.

Members of the Senate Redistricting Committee will hold public hearings on two proposed bills— SB 4 and SB 7— on Sept. 24 and 25. SB 4 deals with state Senate districts and SB 7 deals with State Board of Education districts, which are also redrawn following the census.

View the proposed map here.

Washington: The state’s four voting Redistricting Commissioners each released proposed state legislative maps on Sept. 21. These maps will be the subject of a virtual public meeting on Oct. 5. Members of the public are invited to participate. The deadline for the commission to finalize its state legislative district map is Nov. 15.

In Washington, congressional and state legislative lines are redrawn by a five-person non-politician commission. The majority and minority leaders of the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives each appoint one registered voter. These four appointed commissioners then appoint a fifth, non-voting member, to serve as chair.

View the proposals here.